A different version of this post was up for about 15 or so minutes. We had received news from the good folk at Roche Harbor that their Roche Harbor Salmon Classic, scheduled for February 6-7, had been cancelled in the wake of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) closing salmon fishing for Area 7 (San Juans).
Then Tony Floor, Director of Fishing Affairs for the Northwest Marine Trade Association, called us and he was, well, floored. “In all my years of working with the state, I’ve never seen this happen before!”
WDFW changed its mind. After considering some very active public input and hearing input from both his staff and the group of sportfisher advisors, Director of Fish and Wildlife Phil Anderson modified an internal staff recommendation rom earlier in the day and will allow limited salmon openings*, including during the designed Roche Harbor Salmon Classic Derby. We were more than happy to re-write the post!
For the Roche Harbor derby organizers, it had been a traumatic two days. On Saturday they heard the fishery was being closed earlier because of data suggesting that 121% of the allowable limit of chinook had already been caught. They were devastated. The event had been sold out to the limit of 100 as far back as a month ago. Arrangements were being figured out to return the entry fee of $750 to each of the registrants. But there would have been no recovering the lost revenue. “This is the largest economic event for Roche Habor in the Fall/Winter/Spring seasons,” reports Tony Floor, Director of Fishing Affairs for the Northwest Marine Trade Association.
The following terse message from Roche Harbor must have been fun to write:
From Debbie Sandwith, Roche Harbor Market:
YES ~ got the call tonight; WDFW will send press release out tomorrow morning, BUT, we got the call and the Roche Harbor Derby is NOT CANCELLED.
Look forward to seeing all of you next week ~ please spread word that the Roche Harbor Derby is GO TIME!!!!
2/5 Thursday Registration
2/6 &2/7 Friday and Saturday we Fish!!!!
We will call each Team Captain to make sure EVERY ANGLER has the good news!!!!
* Area 7 will be closed Wednesday night and Thursday, then open for Fri-Sat-Sun (Jan 30, 31, Feb 1), then closed again until February 6, when it will open for Fri-Sat-Sun (Feb 6-8) At that point the closure will be reevaluated.
This turn of events does put a spotlight on certain issues with fisheries management.
“The problem with the original decision by Fish and Wildlife was that the areas adjacent to Area 7 have significant numbers of salmon that could be ‘transferred’ to Area 7,” Floor says. “It’s not like how fish counts are treated in the ocean, where if the total number of salmon is in good shape, fish could be transferred (on paper) to the area that doesn’t have as many fish. Right now on Puget Sound, the overall count in the other areas are at 45% of allowable catch limits and are likely to remain open through April,” Floor says, adding. “This situation must be changed. We need flexibility.”
Expect to hear more from Tony in the coming months about this topic.